Dessert is a much loved food type. Pastry chefs have created amazing tasty treats to lure us all into the web of their decadent delights. Not only are desserts loaded with sugar, but there are added sugars in many processed foods and drinks. Why is it that there’s so much talk about sugar being bad for us? How is it that something that tastes so wonderful and puts a smile on our face with every bite, can reap such havoc on our health if consumed in excess?
Eating sugar causes the same type of feel good sensation in the brain as some drugs which leaves a person craving more. Notice how you always want more sweet stuff after you’ve had some. Are the health risks worth the couple minutes of enjoyment?
If you are interested in living a healthy life and feeling good, so you can enjoy the time you have here on earth, then what you eat is of great importance. Here we are going to focus on sugar and how it effects your health negatively which leads to poor health and potentially shortens your life.
How bad is sugar for your health?
In the Blood Stream
When we consume any simple sugar, which is found in sweetened drinks, such as soda, juice, sweetened coffee drinks, or any sweetened beverage, as well as desserts, candy, and added sugars in condiments and other processed foods, our pancreas releases the hormone insulin. It absorbs glucose/sugar and transports it to the liver to use later on (between meals, when we are going to use extra energy such as in an athletic effort, and during sleep). The liver depends on insulin to do its job.
Glucose is the body’s fuel source. The foods that we eat are converted to glucose in order to be used as fuel by our body. If necessary the body will even convert protein into glucose to use as fuel. In extreme cases where a person is in starvation, the body wastes away and in this process glucose is created out of the body’s own tissue to survive.
The release of insulin balances our blood glucose, however eating too much sugar over a prolonged period or too often can result in various health problems.
How Else is the Body Affected by Sugar
Sugar also effects our body’s energy level. At first it gives us a feeling of increased energy due to an increase in blood sugar (an increase of fuel) which triggers a response in the pancreas to release insulin. This brings blood sugar down and leaves the body feeling depleted of energy. This mechanism causes us to crave sweets making it more difficult to stay away from eating or drinking those sugary tasty treats. The vicious cycle continues and also depletes our body of vital nutrition that helps to keep our energy levels steady.
The key to keeping a dump of insulin into the blood stream from happening and keeping insulin steady, thereby avoiding the cravings for more sweets, is to minimize carbohydrates overall. Making better choices in the carbohydrates you eat, choosing carbohydrates that are lower on the glycemic index (or overall lower net carbs) and nutrient rich will balance out insulin and energy levels. Check out these two links concerned with the glycemic index and with carbohydrate (carb) counting. The carb counting article discusses carb counting in relation to diabetes, however there is information in there that is helpful to anyone trying to decrease their blood sugar. 1) http://www.diabetes.org/food-and-fitness/food/what-can-i-eat/understanding-carbohydrates/carbohydrate-counting.html 2) http://www.diabetes.org/food-and-fitness/food/what-can-i-eat/understanding-carbohydrates/glycemic-index-and-diabetes.html
What About Other Organs
Our skin can be adversely affected by consuming sugar. There is a reaction that happens in our body between the sugars we consume and proteins whereby a substance (a byproduct of this reaction) destroys collagen (the building block of skin and other tissues in the body) and elastin, causing the skin to age faster. The skin loses its youthful appearance and begins to sag prematurely.
Eating Sugar = More Wrinkles
Sugar can Damage the Body Down Deep
Blood vessels get negatively affected because the sugar thickens the consistency of the blood, therefore making it more difficult to flow through the blood vessels, especially the smaller vessels in the organs like the kidneys, eyes, brain, and heart. Over a prolonged period a person can develop, high blood pressure, kidney disease and even kidney failure. High blood pressure can eventually lead to stroke.
Just as the intake of too much sugar can age the skin it can also accelerate cellular aging (over 30 trillion cells in the human body). Cells age as part of the normal aging process. However, sugar increases the rate of this process.
As enjoyable as it is to eat fun foods and drinks that contain sugar, most of us would agree that eating these types of foods aren’t worth the couple of minutes of pleasure we get while we’re eating them. Best to save a special treat for once in a while or for a special occasion in order to minimize the negative effects. Research has shown that a diet generally lower in carbohydrates is associated with more radiant skin, lesser chance of obesity (which can lead to diabetes type 2), and better overall health.
Eliminating sugar and simple carbohydrates from your diet can be challenging and best done cold turkey. The body’s insulin response will take a few days to reset. What helps is to drink lots of pure water, 6-8 8oz glasses per day and replace sugary foods with clean protein, good fats, low sugar fruits such as berries, and plenty of veggies (lots of greens).
As you are going through the process of detoxifying your body of sugar be patient with yourself for the first few days as you reset your body. After those first few days, you will begin to feel better, even lighter and have more energy. You’ll start to notice the natural flavors of your foods more. Pure clean food will start to become more delicious as you eliminate those things that over sensitize your taste buds.
It is very important while detoxifying your body from sugar that you eat at regular intervals during the day so that you don’t get hungry and eat the wrong thing. Prepare your food from the night before, including healthy non-processed snacks and eat every 2 1/2 to 3 hours. If you work or go to school and won’t be near your refrigerator during the day, make sure to pack a cooler to take with you. Have all your meals available, that way you have a better chance of sticking to the plan.
A great between meal snack is about 12 count (or 1 oz) of nuts. Almonds are a great nutritious, in between meal snack, low in carbs, contains good fat and protein which will keep you satiated till your next full meal. Another trick to help you level things out is to not overeat. Stop yourself before you stuff yourself. Pack smaller meals. Even measure or weigh your food to make sure you’re eating the right amount. If you have to eat out, besides making good food choices, cut your meal in half and take the rest to go.
Check out these two YouTube videos on sugar. Real eye openers. The one is called Why Sugar is as bad as Alcohol and the other is How to Quit sugar and Unhealthy Habits.
I would love to hear from you about your experience with sugar. What have you noticed in your body after eating sugar, whether you’ve consumed a sugar containing food or beverage on a regular basis or just occasionally. In the comment section below, feel free to share your experience. Let me know if you have any questions. I will get back to you very shortly with a response.
All the Best in your Journey,